Ten ways to convert your hobby into a career

Jason Gillespie - passion, belief, effort!

Jason Gillespie – passion, belief, effort!

In the previous three posts, we progressed from thinking about hobby as a career, to the possibility of going from hobby to career, to considering 8 aspects of a hobby before it can become a career.

Once you are firmly fixated on converting your hobby into a career, the next step is to carefully build a strategy around it.  In this post I will lay out 10 ways to convert your hobby into a career.

But before that, I want to reproduce an insightful quote from a very successful Australian fast bowler.  Jason Gillespie, pictured above, had a stellar career having played 71 test matches for Australia, when their team was at their most successful.


Jason Gillespie:  “I had absolute belief that I’d play for Australia when I was very young. I just had this absolute desire and nothing else mattered to me. I was telling anyone that wanted to listen that I’d play for Australia. You back that belief up with desire and effort, it goes a long way. I’m living proof of that.”

This quote highlights three things – passion, belief and effort.  Belief and effort translate into patience.  If you have complete faith in yourself, your strategy and your execution skills and then when you put in a huge amount of effort (10000 hours in the right direction), success will surely follow.


Here are the 10 ways to convert your hobby into a career:


1.      Teach/Coach

The most common way to get going is to teach someone (who is interested) the thing that you are an expert on.  Tutoring or coaching someone on dancing, playing the violin, playing a sport, repairing a camera, etc. is a great way to begin.  Once you spend some time on this, you can then think of expanding this activity.

2.     Review equipment

A number of hobbies have related equipment that people need to purchase.  For example sports gear, books, camera equipment, tablet computers, musical instruments, cars, etc.  With increasing competition amongst manufacturers, the consumer is now faced with a plethora of choices.  The consumer needs expert help in deciding which one. Even with medicines.  As Jerry Seinfeld said, “would you prefer long-lasting or fast-acting”?

As you review (and publish your review) more and more, you will establish yourself as an expert for equipment relating to your hobby.  This will position you to convert from hobby to career.

3.     Write a book (and convert the ebook into an audio book)


Writing a book is another way to indicate your expertise in a topic.  We are now in the age of ebooks and self-publishing.  Gone are the days when a book needed a year to be written and two to be published.

In comparison to the other ways, writing a book grants you instant expertise designation.  A book also helps open the door for other assignments such as speaking, consulting and coaching. 

Once you have your ebook published, you can then clone it into another saleable product, an audio book.  A large section of the population commutes to work.  Average commute is anywhere between 15 mins to an hour.  These folks spend most of their time listening to their favorite music or radio station.

Give them your book in audio form to listen to.  Or convert your book into a set of audio CDs.  This is another way to package your hobby into a saleable product and ensure an income-stream, while further establishing your expertise in the topic.


4.     Set up a shop or store


One of my friends who worked for more than 20 years in the elevator industry finally purchased a Maaco franchise and is now running his own business in San Francisco.  Once he realized he could no longer continue with his career in the elevator company, he started to consider his options.  He spent a full year (yes a full year) and considered various options.  Finally he settled on Maaco, simply because he had tremendous interest in cars and wanted to be around them.  Anytime a different car comes in for a paint job or body work, his eyes light up in excitement.

If you look closely at any hobby, you can associate yourself with either fixing instruments or selling related things.  Computers, musical instruments, books, bicycles, toys, plants, etc. 

While a local shop or store would call for your presence there most of the time, you can also set up an online store.

5.     Provide consulting services

Depending on your hobby, you can provide consulting services.  Problem solving, business consulting, software development, expertise on any niche area such as planning for air quality, process improvement, financial planning,  organizational setup, are all examples where you can utilize your expertise in a particular area and provide consulting services.

For this type of career, you absolutely must have expertise established. 

6.     Hold seminars or events

This is another way to set up a business in your area of interest.  Chris Guillebeau holds the Word Domination Summit every year in Portland, Oregon.  Of course he is an established expert in his field and his name draws people from all over the US and beyond.

However, one can also draw on the name of the attendees.  In the US, every summer there are Bollywood troupes that come and perform.  These are celebrity singers, dancers and even movie stars.  Usually it is a tour of a handful of cities, with a 3-4 hour show in each city.

The organizers of the show are just organizers with a huge passion for Bollywood entertainment.  They draw people on the strength of the celebrity’s reputation.


7.      Speak professionally

Professional speaking is big business.  A Tagoras report of 2011 revealed that about 79% of organizations hold meetings attended by more than 500 people and about 83% organizations hire professional speakers. Speaking fees of $5000 to $20000 per engagement was most common (29%).

Check out this page on Gary Vaynerchuk’s website, which highlights the potential of speaking engagements.

Establishing expertise is a non-negotiable prerequisite for speaking. 

8.     Set up a membership site


Consider the following activities: purchasing the same magazine every month, going to your fitness center, your cellphone, cable TV or utility bill, your anti-virus protection, and your monthly rent or mortgage.

What is common to all these?

For all these you get some information or insight, use of facility, use of a network or use of someone else’s money for an extended period.

You pay rent or the bill to avail of continued use.  There is something that you get every month. 

If you can figure out something like this related to your hobby, you can build a membership site.

A membership site (when correctly done) yields steady, consistent and predictable revenue, period after period.

If you are into health and fitness, you could set up a gym.  One of my friends is passionate about cricket (surprise!) and he set up an indoor practice area.  Not only does he sell practice time (availing use of the facility), but he also has membership for continued use of the facility.


9.     Build an online course or coaching DVD

If is it possible for your hobby, you can build an online course.  For example, you could set up a whole series of, say, 10 videos, on building, assembling and repairing a computer.  This series can either be packaged into a DVD or even listed on Skillshare as an online course.

When you market this product, your expertise in the subject helps you make the sale.

10. Build a software tool or an app around your hobby

As an advanced method of generating higher revenue from your career (which used to be a hobby earlier) you could consider providing automated solutions to problems faced by your target audience.  Some problems could have solutions available as an app on a smartphone.  This product has the ability to scale enormously and could even be designed so as to produce recurring license revenue.


The above ten ways satisfy two intrinsic requirements of a career, namely to provide continuous learning and development capabilities and to provide a steady source of income.  Depending on your topic, you can apply more than one of the methods described above.

In addition to this, most of the above allow you complete freedom to work from any location and also take away the 9-5 time constraint.  How cool is that!

As you develop expertise, get more questions from your audience and translate these into more books, DVDs and audio versions, your career and business expands.

As Jason Gillespie said, you have to back that belief with desire and effort.  Give it time, work on the right things, and you will successfully convert your hobby into a career.

In the next post I will talk about the BEST way (deliberate and systematic) to build your online presence as an expert on the subject of your hobby.  This is a major prerequisite to executing your strategy on converting from hobby to career.

 Image(c): http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jason_Gillespie_Portrait.jpg

Author (photographer): Allansteel